GREENVILLE, S.C., Nov. 3 -- A laser exhibit in Spain inspired a philanthropic couple to help their alma mater, Thurman University, in Greenville, S.C. University officials said a $1 million gift from the Charleston residents, Celeste and Charles Patrick, will fund an 80-seat lecture hall that will be part of a new science complex on campus.
The Patricks said they were already considering making a gift to the university when they recently visited the Museum of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, that featured a section devoted to the invention of the laser.
"We saw remarkable pictures and read fascinating descriptions of how Charles Townes, a Furman graduate and Nobel laureate, laid the foundation for the development of the laser, which is perhaps the greatest invention of the 20th century," Charles Patrick said. "When we saw how a sciences graduate from Furman could have such a profound impact on modern society, we were convinced that a gift to Furman may allow history to repeat itself."
Furman's board of trustees approved plans last fall to move ahead with the new science complex, which calls for the construction of two new buildings and the renovation of Plyler Hall, its existing science building. The complex will house the biology, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, and physics departments. Construction is expected to begin this spring and to be completed in fall 2008. The total cost of the project is estimated to be $56.3 million, which includes a $6 million endowment to maintain the new facilities.
Celeste Patrick, a member of Furman's class of '77, is a physician and associate professor of pediatrics at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and a real estate developer. Charles Patrick (class of '76) is a senior partner with Richardson, Patrick, Westbrook and Brickman law firm in Charleston.
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